Marvel Gets Back Into MMO Game with Gazillion

Marvel Announces Super Hero Squad

Gazillion Entertainment today announced a partnership with Marvel Entertainment to create and launch a series of online game worlds, beginning with an online world based on Marvel’s Super Hero Squad, which launches as an animated series on Carton Network this fall. The Marvel license is reported a 10 year agreement, this according to Venture Beat.

Marvel fans will remember, with a twinge of nostalgia, that Marvel did have a deal to produce an MMO, “Marvel Online Universe” with Mircosoft and Crytpic Studios (that many feel may have come from Marvel’s legal action against Crytpic for allowing players to create characters that Marvel felt infringed on its copyrights). After the announcement however, the project was enveloped in silence, and it was later revealed that the project had fallen apart between the parties.

While the company is an unknown, it has reportedly been working “in stealth mode” assembling its teams and on its games for a year, and was founded by investor Robert Hutter in 2005 with the goal of making MMOs. Hutter has recruited talent from many entertainment companies, including Blizzard Entertainment, Pixar Animation Studios, Microsoft, Apple, and more.

Following Super Hero Squad, Gazillion will release Marvel Universe for both PCs and consoles. No release date for the games was given, though Gazillion is undoubtedly looking to launch Marvel Universe before Sony Online’s DC Universe Online MMO, which has also yet to announce a release date and has been in development since June of 2005.

Gazillion's press release follows:

Press Release

Gazillion Entertainment today unveiled a key partnership to develop massively multiplayer online (MMO) games based on one of the world’s most revered entertainment brands, Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: MVL), as part of Gazillion’s plan to bring high quality MMO entertainment to wide audiences. While operating in stealth mode as NR2B Research, the company assembled four development studios and has forged long-term partnerships with select entertainment brands worldwide.

Despite the tough economy, the video game industry continues to grow, and MMO games for mass audiences represent the next big opportunity for the upcoming decade,” said Rob Hutter, President and CEO of Gazillion. “This is particularly the case for established global entertainment brands like Marvel, which possess hundreds of millions of touch points with fans worldwide. The next step is exceptionally high quality MMO entertainment, and that’s our mission at Gazillion.”

With team members from Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Microsoft Game Studios, Pixar Animation Studios and many other leading companies, Gazillion has assembled talent from across the landscape of MMOs, console video games, animated feature films and technology to address the mission of building breakthrough MMOs capable of resonating with wide audiences. Privately held and backed by leading venture capitalists, Gazillion is comprised of four wholly-owned production studios as well as publishing, operations and an innovative online payments group.

MMOs Extend Franchises, Offer New Market Opportunity

“The global online PC game market is expected to reach $19 billion in 2013, and Casual and AAA MMOs are expected to reach $11.8 billion in 2013, representing a growing shift beyond the core to audiences of all types and ages,” said David Cole, founder and president of DFC Intelligence. “The keys to success will be the ability to release products for a range of audiences and a focus on making games a quality ongoing service. As the market grows, large entertainment brands will play an important role in expanding the audience. Marvel has taken the lead in going after this emerging opportunity and it speaks volumes that they chose Gazillion as their partner in this space.”

Gazillion today announced a worldwide licensing agreement with Marvel to develop and publish MMO games featuring Marvel’s iconic universe of more than 5,000 Super Heroes, including elements from its films and animated series. The first game in development is a casual MMO for younger audiences based on Marvel’s Super Hero Squad property. Super Hero Squad features an exciting, super-stylized look for the greatest Super Heroes, including Iron Man, Hulk, Wolverine, Thor, Fantastic Four, Captain America and many others.

In addition, Gazillion will be developing and publishing Marvel Universe, a highly anticipated MMO for PC and consoles. Further details on Marvel Universe will be released in the upcoming months.

“Marvel’s library features a large and world-renowned stable of characters, making it tailor made for massively multiplayer entertainment that will appeal to a wide audience eager for more opportunities to interact with these iconic character franchises,” said Simon Philips, President, Worldwide Consumer Products for Marvel Entertainment. “Gazillion’s excellence in casual and AAA MMOs makes this an ideal partnership to fully leverage this powerful entertainment arena, bringing fans an exciting, interactive experience with the Marvel brand.”

Studios and Services

Gazillion has assembled a world-class roster of online game development professionals within four wholly-owned but individually operated studios, in addition to its publishing and operations centers in San Mateo, CA. Details currently being shared include:

* Amazing Society (Issaquah, WA), which is developing the Marvel Super Hero Squad Casual MMO;

* Gargantuan (San Mateo, CA), which is developing the Marvel Universe PC and console MMO;

* NetDevil (Louisville, CO), which is developing the LEGO Universe and Jumpgate Evolution MMOs;

* Slipgate Ironworks (San Mateo, CA), which is developing an original MMO property; and

* SmartyCard (San Mateo, CA), the award-winning payment service for kids and leading online games.

Additional titles under development have not yet been announced.

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